Learn how to do a fishbone stitch. Nature has a way of providing designs and detail that are so inspiring to the experienced and the beginner embroiderer. Fishbone stitch embroidery is one of those simple but very effective stitches that capture the shape and delicate form of leaves, feathers, and other parts of a picture you may need to use a filling stitch with some texture and character.
Fishbone Stitch Tutorial
The beauty of the fishbone stitch is that it automatically creates a ridge down the center of the design that resembles the vein of a leaf or the center of a delicate feather without having to add that detail separately.
What is Fishbone Stitch Used For?
Fishbone embroidery stitch is normally used for embroidery leaves or similar shapes where you want a dense look with texture.
Fishbone Stitch Leaf - Preparation
Prepare your design with an outline and a centerline to mark the middle of your stitching. I drew a leaf shape and marked the center vein. The fishbone stitch is created between these points, and once you get going, you will be amazed at how beautiful it looks.
If you are new to sewing embroidery, read my article on how to embroider.
This fish bone stitch, like most other embroidery stitches, is best done in a hoop or frame to hold the fabric tight. The frame can be small and can be moved around on a larger piece of fabric.
I have used a 6-strand embroidery floss for my samples. If you want a finer look, you can use fewer strands. Obviously, it will take you longer to sew with a thinner thread, but embroidery is a relaxing hobby, so this may suit your patience level.
Embroidery needles should suit the fabric you are using and the thickness of your thread. Read all about types of hand sewing needles.
How to Do Fishbone Stitch - Step by Step
Step 1 - Start the Vein
Bring your needle and thread out at point (1) near the top tip of the design. Point (1) lies directly on your center line.
Put the needle through the point (2) to make a single small, straight stitch. Point (2) lies at the very tip of your design.
Step 2 - Point of Leaf
Bring the needle out at point (3) close to the first incision and along the outline.
Take the needle to the left of the center line (4) and exit at (5) which is on the outer line. The stitch points on the outer line must be close together to stop visible spaces from forming along the design.
From now you will be stitching to the left and right of the center line and never directly on it. This forms the ridged edge in the center.
Step 3 - Start Crossing Over
Cross the needle on the right side of the center line. Insert at (6) and exit at (7) which is on the outer line.
When you pull the needle through you will see how the center stitches cross over each other.
Step 4 - Repeat
Repeat all the way down the leaf. Remember to have a long thread available because this design uses more thread than you expect.
Here is the completed leaf.
Fishbone Stitch Variations
Fishbone Stitch Flowers
Fishbone stitches can be used for the petals of flowers with pointed ends. It is particularly good for larger embroidery flowers as it gives texture and shape to the petals as well as minimizes the risk of the longer strands catching.
Open Fishbone Stitch
A more open look can be created by leaving gaps between each stitch. Open fishbone stitch still crosses over each other in the center. The edges of the leaf can be left open or you can backstitch or chain stitch to outline the leaf.
Raised Fishbone Stitch
Raised fishbone stitch has a more 3 dimensional and padded appearance compared to the regular version.
Alternatives to Fishbone Stitch
Fishbone stitch is mainly used to create leaves and is one of the best options if you like a very solid look. The overlapping center mimics the veins of the leaves and creates quite realistic representations.
You can also use a satin stitch, although it doesn't have the texture and realism that a fishbone stitch has. Fly stitch can be used to create the veins of leaves, and backstitch can be used for outlining.
Fishbone Stitch - In Conclusion
Variations to the fishbone stitch make it a very interesting stitch, and the results as a filling-in stitch will always create interesting looks. It’s definitely a stitch you will get hooked on!! The stems in my sample were done with a simple chain stitch. Stem stitch and backstitch are also great for stems.
- Hand Sewing Needle
- Embroidery Floss
- Bring your needle and thread out at point (1) near the top tip of the design. Point (1) lies directly on your center line. Put the needle through the point (2) to make a single small, straight stitch. Point (2) lies at the very tip of your design.
- Bring the needle out at point (3) close to the first incision and along the outline Take the needle to the left of the center line (4) and exit at (5) which is on the outer line.
- Cross the needle on the right side of the center line. Insert at (6) and exit at (7) which is on the outer line.
- Repeat all the way down the leaf.
More Embroidery Stitches
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Stitch
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- How to Embroider
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch